‘Right—THERE! MOMMY! NO! A CAR JUST SQUASHED IT!’ I pumped the brakes, started directing traffic. I was hyperventilating.’: Hero mom saves lizard

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“Y’all knew I wouldn’t get through the weekend without another unbelievable story, right?


Well, trigger warning: yucky animal boo boo details ahead.

…you were warned.

Today I decided to take the kids out for ice cream before a play date their friends house, and like every other time I do something super awesome for them, they rewarded me by fighting one another from their car seats.

‘Holland farted!’

‘No I didn’t!’

‘Ben just touched me with his foot!’

‘No I didn’t!’

You know, the usual. So, I did my best to distract them by this super clever game of ‘Oh, look at this random thing I see in the parking lot.’

I pointed out a broken shopping buggy, a man dancing with an oil change sign, and a black bird eating a French fry. The parking lot was PACKED, y’all. Ten minutes later, I was finally inching up to the exit when my more imaginative child yelled,


So, I pumped the brakes because this IS Florida. We are practically Australia without the lovely accents. A parking lot alligator wouldn’t be entirely unheard of.

‘Where is it, baby?’ I asked, looking around the car for any signs of dragon-type creatures.




I put my car in park, which immediately pissed off the six people behind me, and I rolled down my window. I peeked back and, sure enough, a partially whole, two-foot-long lizard thing was lying in the middle of the parking lot exit.

First of all, I hate reptiles. HATE. I just got a full body chill even typing the word ‘reptile’.

But the only thing I hate as much as a green, scaly mystery creature is the idea that it might be suffering. So, against my better judgement (my mama is going to KILL me), I hopped out of the car and into the line of traffic.

JUST in time to stop ole boy with the Mud Tire Truck from further mincing the poor creature.

‘STAHP! STAHP! Can’t you see he’s suffering?’ I yelled, not in a dramatic way that would concern strangers at all.

There was already a line of cars forming, and everyone looked super agitated, and then my son rolled down his window to yell at me for being in traffic, because he didn’t want me to get hurt—even though HE was the reason I was in this mess to begin with.

My soul: we have to save this creature

My brain: there is a box in the back seat

My mouth: *very long string of expletives*

So, I’m directing traffic around this dang thing, which I’m frankly not even sure what it is. It has red spikes and is as long as my forearm, and even though I’ve heard lizards can regrow tails, this one was looking pretty rough with like, tail guts, or something coming out.

I removed one sandal and scooped the lizard into the box, and lifted the box away, arms fully extended away from my body.

I was hyperventilating. This was not okay.

Mud Tire Guy would surely help me. He looked like the manly-man-rescue-the-lady type. So, I tried my best to look helpless and squeak out

‘Sir, can you take it to a hospital?’

He pulled his truck past me and tipped his hat.

‘Hail nawl, little lady. That thang is all on you.’

The line of cars followed suit, and pretty soon I was standing alone, next to my car, with a half-dead mini dragon in a shoe box that was IN MY HANDS.

*no no no this is not okay somebody else has to do this I am not doing this*

But I did.

I got in my car and set the lizard box on my middle console, and my children were now screaming in a combination of horror and excitement.


‘Don’t let Boo Boo Zilla die!’

…awesome, great, they named it. If it wasn’t already, this lizard was officially my burden to bear.

So I called my friend and was all like, ‘Hey I know we have a play date and you have your twins all by yourself, but how do you feel about me dumping two hangry kids on you for an hour so I can drive this partially dead dragon thing to the exotic animal hospital?’

And without so much as a ‘huh, what’, they agreed. My friends are either loyal or certifiably nuts.

I dropped the kids off, checked the box to make sure the tail guts weren’t leaking, and pulled out of their driveway.

‘Siri, call Animal Hospital!’

I was using the voice command, with my phone on the dashboard, because…I don’t know, I didn’t want to be a distracted driver.

But it’s hard to NOT be distracted by a two foot long wild animal in your cup holder vicinity. And so I almost missed the red light, which caused me to slam on the brakes, sending my phone flying to the floorboard.

Instinctively, I mom-armed the damn box, which sent my body into 100% panic attack mode, because my brain immediately played out ten thousand scenarios involving a flying lizard, my windshield, tail guts, and my arm.

I wasn’t okay. I checked on the lizard, and he didn’t seem super okay, either.

‘Oh no you don’t, BooBooZilla! STAY WITH US! STAY WITH USSSSS!’ I yelled. He opened one little yellow eye and blinked.

He was fading. Fast. But after all I went through he was NOT allowed the luxury of death.



I peeled into the Vet parking lot, grabbed the box, and ran to the door with my arms extended, for fear he might suddenly feel better and fly out at me like a spider monkey.

‘I HAVE AN ANIMAL EMERGENCY!’ I announced as I rushed toward the receptionist. With the box on the counter, I stepped back and crunched over to breathe.

‘Can you save him?’

The receptionist didn’t even look at me when she asked:

‘Is this…BooBooZilla?’

‘Yes—uh, how did you—?’

‘Well, you called.’

I called?

I called.


So, today, friends, I had the not-at-all shameful experience of sitting in a waiting room for twenty minutes, filling out paper work for an animal rescue while sharing oxygen with a stranger who heard me frantically yelling ‘STAY WITH US, BOOBOOZILLA!’ in my car.

When the lizard was finally safe in the vets care and my paper work was complete, the receptionist lady asked me if I wanted the box back.

HAHAHAHAHAH no. No, I do not.

*breathes in deeply*”

Courtesy Mary Katherine Backstrom

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Mary Katherine Backstrom. Mary’s book Mom Babble: The Messy Truth about Motherhood is available here. Follow Mary on Instagram here.  Submit your story here, and be sure to subscribe to our best love stories here.

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